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Holiday traffic shifting back to normal

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Drivers apparently were glad to take to the roads and visit friends and family this year — some for the first time since the lockdowns and social distancing spawned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Local traffic around the holiday seems to have evened out since, with Lt. Maurice Waddell of the St. Clairsville post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol reporting activity comparable to that seen by the post in 2021.

“From Nov. 23 to Nov. 27 we investigated 12 crashes, which is three down in comparison to last year – last year we investigated 15 – and there was only two injury crashes in that timeframe, which was good in comparison to last year when we had four,” Waddell said.

“They made eight OVI arrests, which is two more than they made last year during that same timeframe, so there was an increase,” he said. “Overall it looks like the amount of calls were about identical to last year, maybe just a few more than we had last year, but nothing significant … which is a good thing.”

Meanwhile, the patrol released statistics about statewide incidents during the Thanksgiving and Black Friday festivities.

“Across the state, last year there were 17 fatal crashes … this year there were 16,” Waddell said.

“It’s a little better, but it’s still up there. The common things with those OVI crashes is people weren’t restrained and they were impaired. Those were the contributing factors in those cases. … Locally we were good with the crashes. We always handle crashes every day, but we didn’t see a significant uptick in the crashes due to the holiday, which is good.”

Drivers are also urged to keep safety as a top priority.

“There’s still a lot of upcoming holiday events prior to Christmas and even after that, going into the New Year,” Waddell said. “I just want to reiterate for people to take traffic safety seriously, to be responsible. If you decide to drink, designate a driver and make arrangements prior to leaving the event or destination where you’re at.”

Changes in weather can also create sudden hazards. On Tuesday the Belmont County Sheriff’s Office shared a link to the U.S. National Weather Service out of Pittsburgh, warning that a strong cold front will cross our region tonight through Wednesday morning. Rain is expected, along with possible black ice.

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